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Nothing Quite Like Completing a Quest

by Paul Angilly
May 4, 2004

In today’s collecting world of $100 packs, ultra-limited inserts and extremely short-printed rookie cards, it’s important to have realistic collecting goals to work toward.

The ultimate goal for any collector -- whether they collect sports cards, stamps, Star Wars figures, matchbook covers or commemorative state spoons -- is to have one of everything. But in a card collecting environment where "1-of-1" has become an all-to-common term, getting one of everything is simply impossible.

That is, unless you limit your scope.

For some people that could mean building a "master set" for an issue such as 2001 Topps Heritage baseball. For others, it could mean piecing together the original 1952 Topps set. Some might set a simpler goal, such as getting one copy of every regular-issue Ryne Sandberg card.

Whatever you chose to chase, it should be something that you find fun -- something you enjoy collecting, but which shouldn’t be too easy to find (what fun is collecting something if you can find it all with a quick search?). Perhaps most importantly, it should be something that is within your budget. After all, not everyone can afford building a 1952 Topps set.

This week, I want to illustrate that point by writing about one of my own long-time pursuits which has recently come to a successful conclusion -- getting one of every 7-Eleven Slurpee Coins baseball set ever made.

First, a little history: In 1983, 7-Eleven stores in the Los Angeles area began including "Super Star Sports Coins" (actually 1¾-inch diameter plastic-coated discs) featuring baseball players from the Los Angeles Dodgers and California Angels with large Slurpee drinks. The discs were found one at a time inside a false bottom on the cups.

The discs in the 12-card set used the lenticular technology associated with later Sportflics issues to show one of two different photos on the front, depending upon how the disc was tilted -- either a head shot or an action photo. The backs included the players’ career statistics.

After 7-Eleven tested the waters with that inaugural set, three different 24-card sets were issued on a regional basis in 1984. For instance, collectors in the eastern part of the country would find many players from the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Orioles, Pirates, etc.; while the central part of the country got a set that focused on the Cardinals, Brewers, Indians, Twins, Royals, White Sox and Cubs; and the west set had predominantly players from the Padres, Angels, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners and Athletics.

It is that regional nature that makes the 7-Eleven Slurpee Coins sets so tough to chase after -- collectors in any given area only had access to the discs designated for their specific area. For instance, collectors in Connecticut wouldn’t be able to go to their local 7-Eleven and find the Nolan Ryan disc (a West region exclusive). On the plus side, collectors here also didn’t have to deal with the disappointment of finding Atlee Hammaker’s grinning face at the bottom of their drink.

In 1985, the 7-Eleven disc sets expanded to six regions, with 16 different "coins" in each of five regions, plus a 14-card Tigers set honoring the 1984 World Series champs, issued in Detroit. The discs included three images of the player instead of just two.

The discs returned in 1986 with a twist -- instead of three images of the same player, three different players were pictured on most cards (the exception being a Dwight Gooden disc that was included in each of the four 16-card regional sets issued that year).

The three-player discs included some interesting combinations, such as: "Batting Champs" (Wade Boggs, George Brett and Pete Rose), "Home Run Champs" (Dale Murphy, Jim Rice and Mike Schmidt) and "Strikeout Kings" (Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver).

It was in 1987 that I first started frequenting my local 7-Eleven on the way to work each day to pick up a Slurpee and add to my card collection. That year, there were five different regional sets issued, and I chased after the East region set that included five cards each from the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets.

After a three-year hiatus, the Slurpee discs returned under the Score brand name in 1991 with a total of 120 cards issued in eight different regions. It was that year that I caught a break and really began my Slurpee Coin collection -- by mistake, my local 7-Eleven got a shipment of the Atlantic region cups, instead of the Northeast region it should have gotten. After numerous Slurpee brain freezes, I was able to complete both the Atlantic and Northeast regional sets that year.

Score brought back the Slurpee discs in 1992 as a single 26-card set, with one player from each team. After another hiatus of seven years, the 7-Eleven Coins returned in 2000 as a 30-card (one player per team) nationally-issued set made by Pacific Trading Cards.

So over an 18-year span, 29 different sets were issued, all but the last two on a regional basis, for a total of 493 different cards. Believe me, that’s a lot of Slurpees.

Beginning in the late ’90s, I began searching for sets of the discs at card shows, in hobby magazine ads and most successfully through eBay. The bad news was that the regional sets were tough to find, but the good news was that when I found them, they only cost about $10 each.

It was just over five weeks ago that I finally found the last set I needed for the complete run -- the 1991 Florida regional set. For a winning bid of $4.99, plus another $5.53 for shipping, my collection was complete.

The joy I experienced in finally completing my quest is something I think every collector is hoping for. If you want to experience similar satisfaction in your collecting pursuits, I encourage you to find a similar set or sets to focus your attention on. Maybe in a few years you, too, can experience the pleasure of finally having "one of everything."

About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The Bristol Press and several other daily newspapers in Connecticut.

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